Category Archives: short story

Grandmother Moon’s Blanket by Vlatka Herzberg

LunarEclipse2Chester was almost in kindergarten and a big boy. He loved everything loud: loud music, loud talking, and loud playing. If it was loud, Chester loved it. Chester also loved to stay busy, from the moment he woke up to the moment he reluctantly went to bed, he was busy. Chester was busy stacking blocks and knocking them down with his trucks. He was busy building railroad tracks and tiny, faerie houses. Chester was busy reading books and playing monster tag with the older kids in the neighborhood. Chester loved being loud and busy so much that when his Mother told him it was quiet time and time for a nap, Chester hid. He hid behind the pile of storage boxes in the garage. Mother had to go to work, so Grandmother, the babysitter had to find Chester.

“Ready or not here I come!” Chester heard Grandma’s voice and came running out to greet her. He gave her a great, big hug:

“Hi Nana! Want to play?”

“How about we read a story in your room with the lights out?” suggested Grandma.

Chester frowned. Grandma’s voice lifted with excitement. “You’ll want to be rested so you can get up early for a special surprise.”

“Surprise?” asked Chester. He was eager to find out what it was. Grandma smiled her big, warm smile.

“Yes. We are going to get up very early to watch a lunar eclipse. Your Mother will be with us too.”

“What’s a lunar lip?”

“Lunar eclipse. When the moon passes through the earth’s shadow. Do you want me to read you a story about it?” Chester nodded. Grandma started to read. Usually the rhythm of her voice lulled Chester to sleep, but not today. Chester was too excited to sleep.

“Let’s make some moon cookies, quietly,” suggested Grandma. Chester was happy with that, as long as he didn’t have to nap. By the time Mother came home after dinner, Chester was yawning and ready for bed. He made Grandma promise that she would wake him early so he could see the lunar eclipse. She promised.

Grandma didn’t have to wake up Chester. He woke up right at 4:30am, like he had a built-in alarm clock. He bumped into Grandma in the hallway. She was on her way to wake him.

“Surprise!” he shouted. “Shh!” whispered Grandma. Mother yawned as she met them in the hallway. Dad was still sleeping, so the three of them had to tiptoe outside. Behind their house was a small hill. Chester, Mother and Grandma walked halfway to the top. Grandma spread out a blanket and the three of them sat down. It was very exciting for Chester because it was still dark out. He could see the stars,

“Look! The Big Dipper!” He knew the Big Dipper because it was in his star book. “Look!” “There’s the Moon! It’s wearing a blanket!” shouted Chester.

Mother and Grandmother both said: “Shh!” and smiled. Grandma poured hot chocolate out of a thermos and the three of them huddled together under a big, comfy blanket.

“Tell a story Grandma,” insisted Chester.

“Once upon a time Moon was young.” began Grandma.

“Is she young now Grandma?” asked Chester.

“Oh no, she is a Grandmother like me. Once she was but a young moon, and she loved more than anything to shine brightly.”

“Like the top of her is right now?” asked Chester.

“Yes. The trouble is she wanted to shine, shine, shine all the time.”

“What’s wrong with that?” Chester wanted to know.

“Well, you see, the moon needs to rest just like children otherwise she gets very tired.” Chester frowned. Grandmother continued:

LunarEclipse“Now Moon had a Mother, and that Mother knew that Moon needed to shine some of the time, and rest some of the time, so she came up with a plan. Moon’s Mother asked the earth to throw a blanket over Moon when she wasn’t looking. The earth agreed. So one night when Moon was shining especially bright, the earth moved in front of her and threw a blanket on top of her.

“Like the one she has right now?” asked Chester as he stared at Moon half covered by a shadowy blanket.

“Yes, like the one she has now. No sooner had the blanket covered her, then Moon began to get verrry sleepy. She yawned a big yawn. Her Mother sang her a song, and Moon’s great big eyes began to droop, she pulled the blanket right over her head and fell fast asleep. And that is how Moon learned that sometimes you need to rest so you have energy to shine brightly.”

Chester didn’t hear Grandma’s last words, “Goodnight Grandmother Moon,” because he was busy dreaming of moons and blankets while curled up in his Mother’s arms.

The very next day Chester was playing with his toy dog, and frog. Frog wanted to play jump frog but Dog wanted to nap, so Chester told them the story of Grandmother Moon’s Blanket. He snuggled next to them, and pulled the blanket right over their heads, just like Grandmother Moon they were soon fast asleep.

And that’s the end of the Story.

Copyright © 2014, Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved. You may not reproduce materials without permission from Vlatka Herzberg.

Photo: Copyright © 2014, Theodore Herzberg

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Grandmother Moon and Other Mother Stories eBook soon to be released!

GrandmotherMoonfinishedcoverI am collaborating on a series of Folk Stories with Becky Parker Geist of Pro Audio Voices. Grandmother Moon and Other Mother Folk Stories eBook will be available on Amazon very soon. We were trying to decide the title for the eBook. We considered Epaminondas, Becky’s story, but at a recent BAIPA Mastermind meeting it was suggested we call it Grandmother Moon. It is one of three stories that I wrote for this first volume of Mother Folk Stories.

The first volume has four folk stories all together. Epaminondas is a Folktale adaptation as told by Becky Parker Geist. Each day Epaminondas’ Mother gives him instructions and each day he tries to carry them out, but he never quite gets it right. Grandmother Moon and the Homeless Child is an original story about a child looking for a Mother and a Home. You’ll find excerpts from the story on this blog.

The third story is Abuela and the Rock Child. Abuela’s garden grows more beautiful each day, but she misses her children and grandchildren. They live on the other side of the The Rock People’s wall, and it is forbidden for her to cross it. A little bird helps Abuela with her dilemma. The fourth story is called Mama, Angel and the Tree Dragon. You have to say that with a Southern accent. The main character, Louisa-May tells the story of how her little sister Angel got her into so much trouble with Mama, or is it the other way around?

Grandmother Moon and Other Mother Folk Stories will also be released as an Audio Book, so you will be able to hear the stories come alive with music,  sound effects, and professional acting. I don’t know which I enjoy better, writing the stories or hearing them after Becky has produced them. There’s magic in the telling!

Copyright © 2014, Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved. You may not reproduce materials without permission from Vlatka Herzberg.

Illustration by Natasha Tasiyana Kolida: http://tasiyana.com/

Design by Andy Parker: http://andyparkerdesign.com/

For Becky Parker Geist’s blog: http://proaudiovoices.com/blog/

White Dragon and DragonSong #1 by Vlatka Herzberg

Once there were dragons in our world, there are still dragons in Other worlds, and there are dragons within us. Long ago, deep in the heart of an ancient oak tree slept a child. She looked human, but was not. She was of the world of nature and the nature spirits, so it was natural for her to be hibernating. In a way it was as though the tree itself was her mother and held the child. The young child nestled in a blanket of moss and roots and dreamed of dragons, noble dragons, small dragons, dragons that breathed fire, and dragons that swam in water. Amongst them was the most regal of dragons. It was as white as the tree child’s skin. This dragon’s wings were made of feathers as soft as a swans. This dragon’s face had white whiskers and tufts of white hair in its ears. When it breathed, it breathed a mist in and out of itself, filling its world with mystery. The tree child dreamed herself into this dragon’s embrace, and although she did not know it yet, the Dragon named her DragonSong.

In the human world, a child was born that was destined to be a greater warrioress. She was born screaming and defiant, and did not want to be near her mother, only her father. As she grew, she followed her father wherever he would go. When he went to battle, she yelled and screamed because she was not allowed to go with him. The sages and soothsayers said that she was destined to conquer the mighty White Dragon. So father and mother honored the human child and allowed her to learn combat when she was of age. She quickly became very skilled and adept and was by far the best swords person in all the land. The people called her Might for no challenger was her rival. Dual after dual Might won. She soon grew tired and bored with this child’s play and set off looking for real adventure.

When DragonSong awoke from her dreams, she stepped out of the tree and saw that the tree was no longer in the forest she had known as her home, but instead was in an old abandoned Faerie Temple. It was cold and full of mist, but DragonSong had brought warmth of the forest with its ivies and song birds.

A low rumbling voice echoed in the parlor, “Welcome to my abode. I am the White Dragon.” The majestic white dragon bowed its head to the child. She stepped toward it and tentatively touched it’s nose. The Dragon sneezed and mist settled on the child’s face and shoulders. She laughed. The laughter rumbled through the empty temple. It rolled off the walls and landed on the dragon and tickled him with delight.  “Please, great White Dragon, tell me why I am here?” The dragon did not speak in words for such is not the dragon way. It lowered its brow to the child’s and told his story in images.

DragonSong saw images of the great white dragon pierced through the belly by a tree. She saw images of a human warrioress, fierce and determined with single focus on the White Dragon’s defeat. Dragon Song saw herself as a woman working the White Dragon Magic and uniting humans and the spirits of nature, helping them to work together in harmony. Image after image filled the child’s mind until she was weary with sleep. She cradled up in the White Dragon’s wing, and once again she fell to dreaming.

Because DragonSong was of the Other worlds, she could move from world to world with ease. She could enter the heart of Faerie just by desiring it. DragonSong imagined waterfalls flowing from cities suspended in air. Sylphs danced and played with the Undines teasing their watery hair. DragonSong entered this world looking for a Dragon Sage one who could teach her what the White Dragon could not teach her,  how to defeat the human who was intent on killing the dragon.

The Dragon Sage spoke in the hushed whispers of leaves. His voice sang like a harp and danced like weeping willows surrendering to a breeze. He spoke with balls of light and flames of fire and cast a circle about DragonSong. Stones with ancient scribe arose in the circle. The stones birthed a red dragon who breathed fire into stone and forged an amulet for DragonSong. The Sage placed the amulet around DragonSong’s neck. She morphed and grew into a woman. The red dragon’s eyes pierced DragonSong’s eyes with fire. The Sage filled her heart and hand with crescents of light. She moved her arms and the red dragon moved with her. In her mind’s eye she could see the warrioress and knew it was time that she return to the White Dragon.

Might had tracked down the White Dragon’s Lair. There was nothing that stood in her way of defeating the White Dragon. He would not know she was there. He was old and some said maybe even blind. Might walked towards the crack of light coming from frozen land and stone. The light emanating from the mountain caught her breath, but she would not be swayed. She came here for one purpose and one purpose alone.

 Dragon Song was prepared. She had taken the old dragon down to a spring deep inside the mountain and here she worked her White Dragon Magic. She thought of the Dragon Sage and his Red Dragon. She thought of the fire in her eyes and heart. She thought of the impending death of the White Dragon and the fire rose to her heart and moved down her arms into her hands, making the crescent moons glow with light. Her hands moved like dragons flying in the air, they wove in and out, making spirals and swirls and sigels, up, down and around, and back again. Her long white sleeves flowed with grace, weaving white streaks of Runes and symbols into the air. The White Dragon dragged its body close to hers. Her magic revived him. He filled himself with her essence. He filled himself with her love. DragonSong’s essence and love pulsed through the White Dragon’s body. His wings flapped. His eyelids burst open, and where once there were eyes now there was only light. (To be continued.)

Note from author, Vlatka Herzberg: This story is part of a collection of short stories I have written. The stories come to life as I play with characters and ideas meditatively and with images that inspire me.

Copyright © 2014, Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved. You may not reproduce materials without permission from Vlatka Herzberg.

 

 

Grandmother Moon and the Homeless Child #3 by Vlatka Herzberg

In the days and weeks to come, mother and baby wrestled and nuzzled. Mother Bear taught Sharah Bear how to catch fish and find the juiciest berries. This is how they lived all the way until the moon was full, and new once again. Sharah was happy being a bear cub and having a bear mother but there was still something in her heart that she longed for. While Mother Bear slept, Sharah Bear walked to the edge of the pool and called upon the moon, which this time was but a sliver of a moon. “Grandmother Moon with a smile,” called Sharah. “Thank you for giving me a Mother Bear. I really appreciate it. But I am a human child and would like a human mother. Could you help me?” Grandmother Moon said nothing, but smiled down upon Sharah until she fell asleep. (To be continued.)

Copyright © 2014, Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved. You may not reproduce materials without permission from Vlatka Herzberg.

 

Grandmother Moon and the Homeless Child #1 by Vlatka Herzberg

Once there was a child who did not have a home. She did not have a mother or a father. She did not have a house, or a people. She was alone. She hid inside hollow trees, ate roots and berries. She howled with the coyotes at night and laughed with the ducks in the afternoons. She knew her name, for the wind whispered it to her. The wind called her Sharah, one who shares herself. Sharah loved to dance in the moonlight by the pool. She loved to admire the stars. One moonlit night she called up to Grandmother Moon, “Grandmother, can you please find me a home and my people, so that I may know where I belong.” Grandmother moon said nothing, but smiled upon this homeless child who had the courage to ask for what she wants. (To be continued.)

Copyright © 2014, Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved. You may not reproduce materials without permission from Vlatka Herzberg.

 

How the People Learned to Thank Water #3, Conclusion

She dreamed of droplets of water dripping onto her face. Drip, drip, drip. And she heard tiny giggles. “Stop it. I’m getting all wet!” she yelled and awoke from her dream. She was startled to see a sprite, skin as green as olives, hair like grass, hovering over her. Her dress was wet with dew and when she giggled the dew drops sprinkled all over Shenna’s face. All the commotion woke up Brock. He saw the small green sprite. “A pixie!” he yelled. “I’m not a Pixie! I’m a Sprite! Don’t you know your elementals?!” she frowned at Brock. Brock shook his head with disbelief. He had never seen a real sprite before. “Can you show us where a spring might be? Our village is experiencing a drought and we need water.” The Sprite inspected the two children. “There is no village close to here. You must be very far from home,” she said. Shenna nodded. “I will take you to a spring,” said the Sprite, “but it isn’t what you expect.”

And so it is that the Sprite sprang, tumbled and flew to the Spring. Shenna and Brock both rode the old nag after her. It was the only way that they could keep up. When they got to the spring, Shenna thought it was mistake. She was expecting to see water gushing and flowing out of the spring, but instead there was only a trickle. “But that isn’t enough water to help our village,” said Shenna. “No. It is not,” said the Sprite. “What are we going to do?” asked Brock. They both slumped down on the wet rocks near the spring.

“I’m going to dance,” said the Sprite and she began to twirl under the droplets of water streaming down the rocks. There were  times when her body merged with the water and looked translucent. Brock poked his finger right through her. She giggled, “That tickles.” “I don’t understand,” Said Shenna. “Does this mean that the drought is everywhere?” The Sprite stopped twirling and nodded her head, “Yes.” Shenna started to cry. She was sad for her people. She was sad for her parents at home worrying about their crops. She was sad for all the people in the world that didn’t have water. Shenna’s cheeks began to tickle. The Sprite was wiping her tears with her wings. “There’s another way to see things.” “All you see is that your world is without water. Your people do not see that the Undines are stressed.” “I don’t understand,” said Shenna.

“Here take my hand,” offered the Sprite. Shenna and Brock held the Sprite’s hand and they began to spin and shrink until they were dripping into a pool of water. They plopped into the pool, transforming into water spirits. Shenna’s body was blue. Brock poked her. “You’re see through,” he laughed. “So are you,” she poked him back. “What are we?” asked Shenna. “Why you’re Undines of course,” said the Sprite.“But what will mother and father think?” frowned Brock. “You won’t stay this way, just long enough.” And before she could say another word, the Sprite jumped and bounced away. Shenna yelled, “come back,” but the Sprite ignored her. Instead the water formed a large mouth and said,“Stop making so much noise. It makes me ripple.” “Who said that?” demanded Shenna. “I did,” said the Undine who shape shifted itself into a face that Shenna and Brock could see. It was a watery face with a twig for a nose and a very squiggly mouth. “Now why are you here?” The Undine wanted to know. Shenna told the Undine the whole story. Brock ended it with, “yep that’s the way it happened. Can we stay water spirits? This is fun!” The Undine listened, then said, “Hold on they were going for a ride!”

They followed a tricking stream to the river. It was very low. They passed skinny cows, and parched fields, until they fell into deep, dry cracks. “Woa!” yelled Shenna and Brock. “Hold on!” said the Undine. They followed veins of moisture to an underground stream, flowing all the way back to the spring they had come from. “Wow, that was cool! Do that again!” said Brock. The Undine frowned, “Do you know why there is a drought?” “Because the water spirits are stressed,” said Shenna. “Yes, the water is stressed. All the pollution is choking us up. We need your help,” said the Undine. “But how can we help? We are only children.” “You can start appreciating water and sending healing to it.” Then the Undine taught the children a ritual of placing their hands over the water and filling it with their gratitude for all the ways that water gives to them, for food, drink, bathing, cleansing, and all nourishment. The children learned a healing song that they could sing to the water, and promised that they would share it with others.

When they were done the Sprite came back. “Are you ready to go home?” “Yes!” said the children. They thanked the Undines and sang them a song. The Sprite danced on their hands and they turned back into children! Brock poked his sister. She giggled, “Hey stop it!” “Just checking if you are back to normal,” laughed Brock. The children took only enough water in their canteens for the remainder of the trip home.

Shenna and Brock were happy to be home. Their parents rushed to embrace them, “Where have you been? We’ve been so worried!” Shenna and Brock told their parents and all the villagers their story. When they were done they showed everyone how to cup their hands over water and fill it with their gratitude. They taught all the villagers, young and old how to sing songs of gratitude. If people forgot, they could make it up. What mattered is what they felt in their hearts. The people learned how to feel gratitude for every droplet of water. They became more conscious not to waste it. Eventually the drought ended. People lessened their pollution. The Undines relaxed, receiving healing, and eventually the water started to flow again. The rains came, and the cycle of life flowed.

From that day on whenever people walked by a river, spring or the ocean, or when it rained, people would sing: “Bless the water in the sky, bless the water in the earth, it’s alive and flowing. Thanks be to water. Thanks be to air. It gives all life. Treat it with great care!”

Copyright © 2014, Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved. You may not reproduce materials without permission from Vlatka Herzberg.

 

How the People Learned to Thank Water #2 by Vlatka Herzberg

Mother and father gathered their children and hurried to the Gathering Hut where all the villagers met. The leader of the village was Terra, a matriarch, and a woman of wisdom. Her face was clouded with concern. “The elders of Atwon have spoken of this day for some time, the day of the rain was stolen. A day when our land would be shrouded in dust and a fierce heat. A time of great imbalance.” The people of Atwon looked very concerned. Babies cried, older children were fidgety. Something was very wrong. The harmony they knew for so long was gone. “Who had taken the rain?” Shenna was determined to find out.

Early one morning while mother and father were busy trying to figure out how they would survive without water Shenna and Brock snuck away. How would they bathe? What would they drink and use for cooking? What about their animals and crops? Mother and Father were trying to figure that all out, while Shenna and Brock made a clean escape. Shenna put Brock on top of their father’s old nag. Brock slid into the sag on the horse’s back. “We’re off on an adventure,” he smiled.

“How do we bring the rain back?” Brock asked his bigger sister. She was older, she knew everything. Feeling the pressure to know, Shenna concentrated until the squiggle in her brow released with the excitement of an explanation,“Well, we must journey to where the water comes from?” “Where is that?” asked Brock. Shenna’s squiggle furled and unfurled, “we must go to a natural spring, a place where the water comes from deep underground not from the sky.” “Oh,” said Brock, never doubting his sister’s wisdom for one second.

They traveled for hours under the sweltering heat. “I’m thirsty,” complained Brock. Carefully rationing out the precious drinking water, Shenna gave Brock his portion for the day. Brock drank it down fast. He didn’t see the concern on his sister’s face. She hoped they would find the natural spring before they ran out of drinking water.

The sun set they found a place to camp, and still no spring. Shenna sang Brock to sleep, and only when he was fast asleep did she cry. She spoke to the moon. “Moon, I’m lost. I don’t know where the spring is and we are out of drinking water. Please help us.” The Moon did not answer Shenna, but she knew it would, so she settled into a deep and wondrous sleep. (To be continued.)

Copyright © 2014, Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved. You may not reproduce materials without permission from Vlatka Herzberg.